Thursday, 14 June 2012

What a day!

Tuesday  12th of June was one of those days…. Nothing happens for ages and then suddenly everything occurs on the same day.

I attended the second day of the CILIP in Scotland (CILIPS) annual conference (branch and groups day) which was held here in Dundee. It is impossible to distil the day’s content into a single blog post, but I aim to provide a flavour of what was on offer. The theme was “Enriching Society” and CILIPS President Peter Reid gave a motivational opening (and closing) speech on the future of our profession and our role in the process of enriching society. In essence we have to build on what we already undertake, and learn, adapt and engage with technology in order to further enhance our contribution to society.

The keynote speaker in the morning; Steve Wheeler from Plymouth University on learning in a digital world, described himself as a ‘disruptive activist’ or alternatively an ‘edublogger’. Whatever tag he could be classified under, he was certainly passionate and enthusiastic on his subject and that was transmitted to the audience. He posed the question …do you like books or reading? as these are no longer synonymous. He considered that learning is changing and we have to adapt too or we will lose them. It’s not that students have stopped reading, but they derive their content from a plethora of sources rather than traditional resources and our skills are required just as much in order to help them navigate the “Tsunami of content”. Steve highlighted that they are comfortable with engaging with social media, utilising mobile devices and technology to access information, but they need us to teach them digital wisdom through the provision of digital literacy (as opposed to just skills) to in order separate the wheat from the chaff.

The closing keynote speaker was Norma McDermott; Developing libraries and librarians: learning from the past and building for the future, was equally passionate about the future of libraries and librarians roles. She stressed that we have to challenge the negativity around perceptions and preconceptions regarding libraries, change our mindset and become champions and actively engaged with policy processes, otherwise we will be regarded as a fossilised organisation who are passengers rather than drivers. Particularly in these straightened economic times we must avoid complacency and reticence which could render us invisible and be explicit in branding ourselves; her parting message was “silence is not an option”.

Sandwiched in between these keynote speakers was a full menu of sessions catering for all tastes.  There was a starter course of Speed Surgeries, where local groups had until the whistle was blown to share their successful projects before their audience circulated. I certainly learnt a lot about how other sectors were engaging with their users. The difficulty then followed as to which of the speakers to select as they were all equally enticing.  I plumped for the Library Teach Meets facilitated by Sheila Williams of Queen Margaret University, with speakers Laurie Roberts also from QMU and Sarah Kevill from Stirling University, as I had been unable to attend their ScotLib TM 2011 event, which had been a great success. It was fascinating to hear the diversity of teaching methodologies that had been presented at the event and which has certainly given me ideas to incorporate into my own future sessions. They also threw out a challenge to attendees- to organise the next ScotLib Teach Meet….

After lunch I chose Laurence Paterson and Eithne Barry from Edinburgh Napier University speaking on; mLibrary: Using mobile apps to develop the service. This is a hot topic in the library world at the moment and I was keen to hear about their mlibrary project. Through surveying their students in 2010, 2011 and 2012, their findings indicated how mobile technologies were developing and noticed increased willingness and ability to engage with library services. One of their statistics that caught my attention was that in 2012 99% of respondents would like to access at least 1 library service on their mobile device; which is pretty convincing.  The challenge however is to design services that suit the users across a range of devices and operating systems as well as ensuring equity of service by catering for the students who are unable to engage with these functionalities.

During the lunch break we held the 59th and final UC&R (Scottish Section) AGM. Although the committee were saddened that this was the final meeting, it is not the end; merely the beginning of a new chapter as UC&R Scotland along with all the other branches merges with CoFHE to create the new ARLG Scottish branch. Hopefully new members will decide to join us.

All together a good well organised Conference day; and speaking to other delegates the previous day had also been excellent.

 My hectic day didn’t stop at the end of the conference, after a quick cup of tea; I was back in Dundee city centre to watch the Olympic torch procession though the town. (Not sure how the delegates trying to get home felt about it though….). Got a great spot and for those who are interested I attach a photograph of said spectacle.

I then nipped up to Dundee Central Library, as I had a ticket to hear Christopher Brookmyre at one of a series of author visits sponsored by Waterstones but facilitated by Shona Donaldson the Adult Library & Information Services Section Leader. These talks are a marvellous way of raising awareness of the diversity of genres and introducing new authors to a wider audience. Personally I have discovered authors who had never crossed my radar before, although in this instance I have heard Christopher several times previously and he was his usual witty self, regaling us with amusing snippets and incidents as well as reading extract from his latest novel: Where the devil drives.

So, apologies for the very long post, hope it was of interest.

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